How to behave at a private view...

Alice-Azania Jarvis
Friday 10 October 2008 00:00
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The thing to remember when attending an arty party – the single most important piece of protocol – is that one never talks about the art. At least, not if you're there for the free champagne. The only people who should are those who a) know about it, or b) are thinking of buying it.

Over Frieze week, there are hundreds of art parties. They fall into two types: the Serious, where the big fish of the art and media ponds gather; and the Glam, where musicians, models and miscellaneous celebrities get to mix with the artocracy.

The former are easier to get into, but harder to navigate. This year's highlights include Tate Modern's unveiling of its Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster installation, the Lisson Gallery's private view for Julian Opie, and Thomas Dane Gallery's showcase of Michael Landy portraits. Novices beware: this is where the aficionados dwell. But, with mouth firmly zipped, anyone should be able to get by, moving slowly from piece to piece, champagne flute in hand. And you can always approach a gallery staff member and ask for a walk-through. Just make sure it's not a security guard. I've done that.

Glam parties are easier to wing, but very hard to infiltrate. Which is not to say one shouldn't try. The Serpentine's opening weekend is a good place to start, with its series of ticketed presentations. Vivienne Westwood is set to appear, as are Brian Eno and Yoko Ono. Just as A-list is the 'Vanity Fair' Frieze Party on Wednesday at Christie's auction house. With its top-secret guest list, it promises to be the event of the week – until the next night, when the ICA hosts its party at Sotheby's. Peter Blake, Mark Wallinger and Grayson Perry are expected, but the event vies with the Fitzrovia Party, where Mario Testino and Claudia Schiffer promise glamour. The final do is on Saturday, with Elton John's Aids Foundation Gala Night.

If you do get into a party, remember: don't get drunk. It is Frieze week, after all – not freshers' week.

...and what to wear

By Carola Long

These days, art and fashion go together like sharks and formaldehyde. Recent collaborations include the American artist Richard Prince's bags for Louis Vuitton, and the Chapman brothers' fuzzy-felt backdrop for the Stella McCartney show in Paris; while the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm's photos and sculptures will appear in the window of Hermès during Frieze.

Once, a pair of large craft-fair earrings teamed with a shapeless black garment was enough to identify you as part of the art world. But now, if you want to look the part, you need to know your Armani from your Marni. The latter label is a favourite of chic curators and auction-house experts, and at its show in Milan, there were T-shirts printed with Peter Blake images, and giant resin necklaces resembling Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.

Forget dressing to seduce an oligarch, the desired effect is understated and kooky. Swap killer stilettos for sculptural heels, and LBDs for architectural volume. If you do sexy, make sure it's scruffy, too – Tracey Emin wears Westwood corsets as casually as if they were M&S T-shirts.

Geek glasses, à la Jay Jopling, are a key accessory for men and women, but hold back on grooming: a blow-dry and fake tan are about as edgy as Jack Vettriano.

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